Much like how Governor Scott Walker wanted to impose his policies without much discussion in Wisconsin, Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Illinois) said that this move was “added without our knowledge or any discussion.” Nonetheless, the subcommittee rejected Costello’s amendment which would remove the provision that makes it harder for people to join a union. This is important because it means that the GOP is trying to jam through legislation that would harm the working class. Since he described it well during his opening statement at the hearing, here’s how Costello said the new rules would impact workers:
The National Mediation Board has a rule that sets out union election procedures in the airline and rail industry to make those procedures fair and consistent with how democratic elections are held. Under this rule, the mediation board will certify a union as the representative of airline or railroad workers if a majority of ballots cast were in favor of the union. Simply put, the majority rules – the ballots are counted and whoever wins, wins.According to Costello, he believes that this provision will have a difficult time making it through the Senate because the anti-union movement there isn’t as strong as it is in the GOP controlled House of Representatives. This means that there could lead to some delays in authorizing funding for the FAA. That’s why he added that “if we are serious about passing a long-term FAA bill, this provision must come out.”
This bill would change the procedure and would require that any eligible worker not voting in an election, for whatever reason, would be counted as a “no” vote. As an example, if there were 100 people eligible to vote for or against joining a union, and 10 or 15 of the 100 did not cast a vote because they were sick or in the hospital – or for any other reason – even though they did not cast a ballot, they would be counted as a “no” vote in the election. H.R. 658 would repeal the mediation board’s rule and impose this outrageous procedure that is intended to make it as difficult as possible for workers to join a union. Imagine if we had to count every registered voter who did not vote in the past election in our congressional districts as a “no” vote. How many questions of public policy on the election ballot would pass if every registered voter who did not vote in the election would be counted as a “no” vote on the referendum or a question of public policy.
What I think is extremely important to note here is that both in Wisconsin and in the debate at the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, people aren’t saying that cuts cannot be made. The pro-labor side is just pointing out that the working class deserves to have its rights protected and they shouldn’t be taken away just because some elected officials want to score political points with the tea party.